2 June 2023 – Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council


It won’t come as a surprise to anyone to hear that I think Solihull is a great place to live, but it’s always nice to have some vindication from other sources. The Telegraph included Solihull in their list of the 25 best places to raise a family in the UK at the weekend, and I heartily agree with them. Whilst the lifestyle section of a newspaper can’t always be considered totally authoritative, it is fair to say that in this case there’s a very good basis for including our borough.

We have great schools, wonderful green spaces, and lots of things for families to do and enjoy. I know all aspects of this don’t apply equally in every part of Solihull, and that’s something we as a council are committed to addressing. We want all our residents to benefit from safe, green places to live with plenty of opportunity and activity on their doorstep, whether through regeneration schemes like our Kinghurst Village Centre project or our award-winning Wildlife Ways. If you don’t have the good fortune of living in Solihull, you can of course visit us to see exactly why it’s such a great place for you and your family.

A few weeks ago I mentioned the upcoming Festival 36, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio. We’ve got some more detail now as to what that will entail. Centring around the opportunity to see an actual First Folio at The Core Library, between 17 June and 2 July there will also be workshops in schools, bards roaming Solihull town centre and a number of special performances at The Core Theatre. This is a wonderful opportunity for Solihull residents to see such a rare and incredibly important text up close, and I’d urge you, as would Sir Andrew Ague-Cheek, to delight in masques and revels at the associated cultural festival.

Even as we enjoy the sunshine, and hope it holds through the summer months, it’s important to think about the energy efficiency of our homes. The Council will be running a series of free drop-in events with our partners Act on Energy to help people keep their home cool in summer and warm in winter, particularly if you may be eligible for the government’s Home Upgrade Grant Scheme. Even if you aren’t, there will be useful information that could help you act in time to try and keep your bills down next winter. The sessions run from 6 to 22 June and will be at locations across the borough. Full details can be found here.

This week saw the Transitions Preparation Day event held at The Core, which demonstrated the range of support available to young people leaving the care system. A wide selection of local voluntary and community groups were in attendance, including Our Voice, Our Services (OVOS) – our children in care council. I’m proud of the breadth of support available to our young care leavers, to equip them with the advice and real-life assistance they need to help with issues such as their emotional health and wellbeing, as well as training opportunities, benefits, and housing advice. You can find out more about OVOS here www.ovossolihull.co.uk  

The Foster for Solihull walk and talk last week made the most of some of the beautiful green spaces we boast here in Solihull. The walk, in glorious sunshine through Malvern and Brueton parks, celebrated Foster Care Fortnight and the amazing work carried out by all of our borough foster carers. Members of our fostering team met current and prospective foster carers to talk through experiences, questions, and anything else that came to their minds. If you didn’t make the walk and are interested in fostering a child in Solihull, find out more or book an informal call with the fostering team via our website www.fosterforsolihull.co.uk

Finally, I was pleased to read the news that Toys R Us are set to open a new store in Mell Square, right in the heart of Solihull. It’s always good to see big name retail backing our town centres, and a toy shop like this is a particular treat given the attraction to families and the nostalgia it no doubt holds for many people, whether that was marvelling at the selection of toys as a child or the happiness of your children as you took them there. From our perspective, more shops means more jobs for Solihull residents and greater footfall, which benefits all the town centre retailers.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend,

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council